How can I deal with past mistakes?

A common misconception about Christianity is that before we can become believers, we first need to be perfect. Only after we’ve taken care of all of our past mistakes do we dare approach God and ask Him for forgiveness.

One problem with this belief is that it sets us up to fail. There is no way we can ever resolve all the bad things we do, because by the time we fix one mistake, we have already made another. Making mistakes is like breathing for humans; it’s part of our nature. The other problem with this belief is that it misses the whole point of Christianity, which is precisely God’s plan for dealing with the bad things that we do. We can’t fix our mistakes, only God can.

So what can we do about this situation? This is best explained with an illustration. For every crime committed, our legal system has a punishment. These punishments vary in severity according to the nature of the crime. The Bible states that there is a moral law at work in the universe as well. This law is based on God’s perfect character For every thing we do that violates God’s character, there is a punishment. Only in this moral system, every crime is given the same punishment: separation from God. The reason being that God is perfect, and anyone who is less than perfect cannot exist in His presence. This situation may sound hopeless, but God has created a way to fix it.

Imagine that you were in the courtroom awaiting the sentence for a serious crime you had committed. The judge looks down at you gravely and pronounces your punishment: death.

As you stand there trembling in your boots, the judge quietly takes off his robe, descends from his podium and approaches you. You brace yourself, not knowing what to expect. To your surprise, he calmly reaches out, unlocks your handcuffs and tells you you’re free to go. You stand there mystified, not really sure if you should believe him.

“But, why?” You finally stammer out.

“I will pay the penalty in your place,” he says. “Because I’m your father, and I love you.” He hugs you, and allows himself to be led away by the guards.

This illustration describes what God has done for us. We’ve broken the law, and we should be punished. But because of His love for us, God, the maker of the law, has paid our debt Himself. He did this by coming to earth in the form of Jesus and taking the punishment we all deserved. Only the maker of the law could do this, because it is to Him we owe our debt. All of our mistakes, past, present and future; and all of our moral debts were dealt with by God through the execution of Jesus.

However, one thing remains for us to do. We must believe that God has done this for us and accept the forgiveness He made possible. Only then will things be right between us and God again. If we do, our past mistakes will be made right in God’s eyes. His record of our wrongdoings will be wiped clean. And when we die, we will be free to live with Him forever, exactly the way things were originally meant to be.


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